This post was originally published on Third Culture Nellie.
I had joked with my Mum months ago that we could run together in my current town Montauban in France.
But my Mum didn’t let my joke go and convinced me to sign us both up! Mum started running with her friends for fun back home. I didn’t realise until after we agreed to run, that the run coincidentally fell on Mother’s Day! Before I knew it, my parents were visiting the weekend of the Montauban Marathon and I started preparing for my first 10K run.
The Night Before
On Saturday night, we turned up to the park where the run would start, in search of food. We ended up at the Montauban Marathon’s Pasta Party.
Thinking the pasta party would just be a sit-down meal and that pasta would give us energy for the run, and at only 15 euros for a three-course meal and drinks, my Mum and I signed up with Tim, my housemate.
It looked so fancy before we sat down, and we were wondering whether we would stick out. We were not ready for a posh sit-down meal and had planned to eat at the market.
We were very wrong. It was incredibly informal. Dancing started before the food had even arrived and at this point, my Mum and I knew we would not be having the relaxing pre-run evening that we were expecting or needed. We decided that we just wanted to finish the 10K and were not fussed about our time. So clearly, we joined in with the party and the dancing!
Other diners were stood on their seats before the food and wine arrived. There was a DJ playing all the French classics. We danced to Rednex’s Cotton-Eyed Joe which turned into a mix of country line dancing and the conga.
At the pasta party, I recognised Imad on another table, a Couchsurfer and teacher from Iran who was visiting France during the Nowruz (Persian New Year) holidays and to arrange a visa. We invited him to join our table. Imad had only heard what a marathon was five months ago and decided then to run! Imad completed the marathon in 4 hours and 52 minutes!
Mum and I cycled to the park where the run was due to start at 9 am. Technically, I’d say we started at 8 am as the clocks went forward the morning of the race. With the clocks changing that morning to Summer Time, and the pasta party the night before, we lost precious sleep and race preparation…
We didn’t actually hear a countdown but just followed the crowd like sheep through the start line. The 10K and half marathon runners started at the same time.
Two kilometres into the race, we were running alongside 81-year-old Christian, his daughter and his granddaughter, who were all running ten kilometres.
Christian ran the London marathon in 1982 and his record time for running ten kilometres is an unbelievable 30 minutes! His daughter confirmed and said that he was the one pacing them! I hope I am like Christian when I am in my eighties!
The route passed through the outskirts of Montauban and through the historical centre.
We ran the whole route together and did not stop once. I was fortunate enough to spend Mother’s Day crossing the 10K finish line together. Our time to beat for our next 10K run is 1 hour 23 minutes and 32 seconds.
After the race, we ran to the toilet then I took advantage of the free sports massage. I had an osteopath look at my shoulder and walked away feeling like a new person.
Funnily enough, our medal and t-shirt say Montauban Marathon, making it look like we actually completed 42km, even though we ran only 10! From this day on, I may never fully trust people that wear marathon t-shirts. They could be like me and have only done one-quarter of a marathon..!
We were impressed with the snacks on offer. My Mum and I stuffed our faces with sponge cake, chocolate and fruit. At the water stands during the route, they had fresh oranges, sugar, prunes and even cake.
Leaving the race area, we saw them handing out 1-litre glass bottles of grape juice. Language Assistant Kodjo and I had assumed that they were bottles of wine. That wouldn’t surprise us being in France.
Other Language Assistants Elspeth, Henry, Kami, Kodjo and Sara ran the half marathon and we had a lovely support group – even some of my students were in the crowd.
My Mum and I then used the goody bag vouchers for free entry to the spa and pool at INGREO aquatic centre. We swam four lengths outdoors then spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the hammam, sauna and jacuzzi. Pouring buckets of ice water over our heads, we made our presence known. We joked that we had done a triathlon – cycling to and from the race and then ‘swimming’ in the afternoon.
The next day, we celebrated with a traditional French lunch with my Dad in Toulouse. We went to Le May, a French restaurant with a three-course meal costing only 11 euros and 2 courses for 9 euros. Budget but bougie.
One of the waiters for some reason spoke Spanish with us. I was too nice to correct him and found it funny. My parents just nodded and smiled. When my Dad asked if he could take the leftover freshly baked bread home, they were lovely enough to wrap a whole baguette for us. I highly recommend!
The same day, my parents flew home and I went back to Montauban to finish my last month of work.
Extremely thankful for my mum who pushes us to try new things we otherwise wouldn’t do and for my Dad who trusts me, even if it means going to strange places with strangers and my current lifestyle of living around the world.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the incredible role models!
Let’s see where our next run takes us…
Meet Nellie: she is best known for her wild adventures and daring challenges. Whether it’s cycling across countries, travelling with strangers or trying to live rent-free, Nellie has done it all.